Joss Whedon's Open Letter to Buy the Terminator Franchise

November 2, 2009
Source: Deadline Hollywood

Joss Whedon and Terminator

If you haven't heard yet, the rights to the Terminator franchise are going up for auction later this month. The Financial Times reports that The Halcyon Co. is selling off the entire rights to the franchise, which will "give the buyer the ability to make new Terminator films, TV programmes and other spin-offs that build on the popularity of the franchise." Sounds like a hell of a deal. It will reportedly sell for more than $60 million, which is what the TMNT franchise sold for recently. But that's not the best part. Nikki Finke of Deadline Hollywood published an open letter from Joss Whedon to the owners of the rights and it's just hilarious.

It's better to read the letter in its entirety on Deadline Hollywood, but I've pulled some of the best parts:

Dear Sirs/Ma'ams,

I am Joss Whedon, the mastermind behind Titan A.E., Parenthood (not the movie) (or the new series) (or the one where 'hood' was capitalized ’cause it was a pun), and myriad other legendary tales. I have heard through the 'grapevine' that the Terminator franchise is for sale, and I am prepared to make a pre-emptive bid RIGHT NOW to wrap this dealio up. This is not a joke, this is not a scam, this is not available on TV. I will write a check TODAY for $10,000, and viola! Terminator off your hands.

He jokes about how he's not joking that there are four zeroes behind that one - "that's to show you I mean business." At first I thought this was fake, like it didn't actually come from Joss Whedon, but now I think it's real and he's just making fun of the franchise, essentially saying that it was a great idea that's been beat to a bloody pulp by Hollywood. Here are some of his ideas for what he'd do with the franchise if he owned it:

1) Terminator… of the Rings! Yeah, what if he time-travelled TOO far… back to when there was dragons and wizards? (I think it was the Dark Ages.) Hasta La Vista, Boramir! Cool, huh? "Now you gonna be Gandalf the Red!" RRRRIP! But then he totally helps, because he's a cyborg and he doesn't give a s#&% about the ring -- it has no power over him! And he can carry it AND Frodo AND Sam AND f@%& up some orcs while he's doing it. This stuff just comes to me. I mean it. (I will also offer $10,000 for the Lord of the Rings franchise).

2) More Glau. Hey. There's a reason they're called "Summer" movies.

3) Can you say… musical? Well don't. Even I know that's an awful idea.

4) Christian Bale's John Connor will get a throat lozenge. This will also help his Batwork (ten grand for that franchise too, btw.)

And this is why people love Joss Whedon! I've got to admit, that was downright hilarious. He's basically saying what everyone else has already thought about this franchise - it's dead, give it up! McG (and friends) tried their hardest to reignite the franchise, but it failed miserably, fizzled out to a cool $125 million earlier this summer. And now what are they going to do with it? Sell the rights off to someone else and pay even more money for another sequel or spin-off that will fail again. I think the Terminator franchise still has a lot of potential, but only in the hands of someone smart who really knows what to do with it. Your thoughts?

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  • Cesking
    The Terminator series ended in T2. they should never have revived it
  • superabilio
    if it's true, Whedon is a fucking moron! What have he done so far? Buffy, Angel, Dollhouse, yeah right! Gimme a break, just a bunch of bullshit, yeah, he can talk!
  • Have Hope
    #1 Only two films exist and they are T1 and T2, the two others NEVER happened. Just accept that T2 was the end, goodbye! Why do we need a Louis Le Terrier or Jean Mamet to come along and give their "unique" take on the franchise. The ONLY being or creature, or entity or organism that can make another Terminator is yours truly, JIMMY CAMERON. Even if Spielberg was to direct it, it would not be the same. Only Jimmy understands what Terminator because guess what....HE IS TERMINATOR. You know, the Joss Whedon headline scared me but then relaxed when it was all a joke. Still, my fear has made me think that if we could get like a million fans to pay one dollar to buy the rights of the franchise and therefore keep it ina vault so no idiot can butcher it anymore will make me so happy. And PLEASE! Don't even dare give me the obvious B.S. of Neil Blomkamp as the director. Terminator 1 and 2 are cinema gold and should not be disturbed. People need to learn how to appreciate and respect a classic. HH
  • Breach
    Terminator still has promise, but has been savaged by idiots after T2, easily the best of them all and even a badass stand alone movie. Unless the words James and Cameron follow the title I wont be that interested. And I know a lot of people liked the TV show, but I thought it was god damned awful. Not because it is a terrible show entirely, but it just felt like a cheap knockoff and did not have either the style or coolness of T2, or any of the Terminator films. Just let it die, please.
  • Xerxex
    Terminator Salvation wasn't all that bad, the major problem is there isn't much character development, that and people will not give McG the benefit of the doubt, and he did a decent job with it, I really didn't see the need for Marcus Wright in the end, or the open heart surgery in hte desert but I can forgive it. And this Whedon guy is all "in" to himself isn't he? He comes off like a pretentious "know-it-all." I'm willing to give McG another chance, the directing was good it just came down to the script which was okay at best. A New scriptwriter could fix it.
    ...coming from the guy who ruined the Alien franchise for good! Maybe he should just shut the hell up and stick to his shitty writing...yeah, and Josh, good luck with Dollhouse! Loser!! And keep your stinkin' hands off the Terminator franchise! The last thing that franchise needs is for some shitty writer to fuck it even more up!!!
  • Have Hope
    Guys come on, let's get real here. Terminator is Cameron's baby. Unless he is back to do it, nobody else GETS Terminator. Seeing as it don't seem likely (never say never) that he will be back, I think Terminator should rest in peace.
  • Trip
    That letter would be funny if it was from a director with some awesome credits to back himself up. He sounds like a douche.
  • PoorOldEdgarDerby
    I judge Joss for using quotations around a figure of speech that has adequately ingratiated itself in the lexicon. And I know that up there should be hyphenated, but I'm all ironic and self-deprifential.
  • LoLeLai
    ATTENTION JAMES CAMERON FANS: The "World" that Cameron created was proven to be plagiarized from two Outer Limits episodes, written by award winning author Harlan Ellison. Ellison sued Cameron when it was revealed he admitted to ripping them off in an interview with Starlog, then they settled out of court b/c Cameron didn't want the hassle of appearing in a courtroom. The Terminator "World" you are all referring to was never concieved by Cameron to begin with. The look of the robot was Stan Winston's creation. The script's one liners, the character names & convoluted timeline of T2, the CG-Goo T1000, and the massive production & promotion budget - those are Cameron's. If these things constitute "World Building" creations - then James Cameron is the God of unoriginal blockbuster action movies, and perhaps budget straining innovations in computer generated movie gimmicks. A charge which I will not contest, given the look & feel of his current endeavors. (Wake Up Call: an ego like Cameron's will NEVER step down to put his name behind anything Terminator related EVER. AGAIN. Why? Because he already fessed up to never having come up with the ideas behind it in the first place!) What a Visionary! Persoanally, I like Joss Whedon's characters & original stories better, since he takes credit for stuff he's actually written!
  • Jeff LeBlanc
    While I agree the franchise should have ended after the second film and has become something of a joke in the face of a failed TV series and two critically panned sequels, has no one any faith in this great story? The world that James Cameron created is still one of the greats in the world of science fiction films. How quickly we forget that. What it needs, and deserves, is to be taken on by someone with the skill and storytelling ability (and the cash, obviously) to do it justice. People used to joke about the Batman movie franchise being 'dead' after 'Batman and Robin'. Look where that series is now. I have a feeling that the Terminator naysayers will be biting their tongues one day too. Also, why did everyone hate 'Terminator Salvation' so much? Sure it wasn't great but it was worlds better than 'Terminator 3' and featured plenty of wicked action and great cinematography along with the solid performances by Worthington and Bale (all Christian Bale jokes aside). I have no problem with its existence in the series. It didn't bomb either, as many people say it did (even Alex said that in the above article). According to Box Office Mojo, it was made on a budget of $200 million and the $125 million box office take that Alex mentioned above is only the DOMESTIC total. The movie has made $371 million around the world. That's a profit of $171 million dollars. A bomb? Hardly.
  • Robbie
    Why won't people understand that The Lord of the Rings plays in the FUTURE!!!
  • S
    #2 You forgot Firefly & Serenity
  • S
    #2 You forgot Firefly & Serenity He's also done some decent writing in the X-Men comics.
  • Richard
    I think hes just happy that his crappier show got picked up and the better terminator show didn't.
  • DoomCanoe
    just give it back to Cameron for free and call it a day
  • James
    at least now whoever buys the rights hopefully will do it because they like the series, and they have a true vision for it, halcyon bought it likley cause they thought it'd be easy money. i'd imagine if anyone bought it now, it would be someone who has the heart in making a good story. i will admit. i hate the idea of more terminator movies. the series was ended with T2. but i accept the fact that someone will buy it, and someone will make a sequel. i just hope now, whoever does, has the right intentions. p.s keep it FAR away from John Brancato and Mike Ferris, two of the worst writers ever. who in my opinion ruined the series, McG should stay away also, however, i do beleive he did the best he could with the pile of shit story that was salvation. so i dont really blame him. my opinion is i hope however gets it, involves Josh Friedman, as much as the SCC was plauged with lowbudget problems, and constraints of TV, i think he was the only one who since cameron did anything positive with the story. i absolutly loved the sarah conner chronicles.
  • YK
    Terminator is a great story with legs. Unfortunately McG cut them off.
  • Dave Lister, JMC
    You'd think a writer would know the difference between "voila" and "viola". Either Whedon is dumber than I thought or this "open letter" is a fake. McG completely destroyed any further interest I might have had, in the Terminator franchise. I say let it die.
  • so is everyone gonna front like they wouldn't pay to see terminator of the rings?
  • TediusTed
    @ #18, the potential is great indeed but each and every time some other clever so and so tries to do this they lessen the potential for more to be made on their luke warm performances at the box office! I say we need MICHAEL BAY for the job! Muwhahahahaha!!!
  • FilmMaker2003
    If Joss Whedon gets the Terminator franchise I can stop pretending there were only two movies. Please Joss Whedon, you are awesome and the only hope (besides James Cameron) to make the franchise amazing again.
  • M-Cat
    Please Cameron buy the rights so we can have the terminator future war done right.
  • Spider94
    Terminator 1692- John Conner goes back to the time 1692,where he must face deadly terminators from the future and save a village of people. - end of story :)
  • jake the snake
    Whedon sounds like a fricking idiot to be honest, joking or not.
  • germs
    No doubt I'd like to see Joss actually make a terminator movie, but he sounds very childish in this letter.
  • AntThrowKnee
    I believe the series ended with T2 but they should have done a movie with just the future war happening and them stopping Skynet and Reese going back in time.
  • Geoff
    @LoLeLai Did you get sand in your tampon this morning? Somebody give him a pacifier and a new diaper. Cry like a little bitch much?
  • Vold
    I thought the newest Terminator movie was great. I look forward to the next one.
  • Geoff's Pants
    @ Geoff: Three words: "Call Me Joe" novel by Poul Anderson. Parapalegic military man enters psionically into an alien body so as to adapt to a hostile alien environment (Jupiter). Despite his mission, parapalegic military man goes native & works for the alien race instead, who are blue, spear-wielding giants in a vastly untouched lush forest world. Similiarities are in the judges' hands now, as the case is already going to court. On a side note - in spite of its complete unoriginality - the EFX in Avatar look amazing!
  • lo
    I don't know what some of you are talking about! Joss Whedon is one of the best writers in the business. He has well thought out dialogue, great character development, interesting (and original) story lines, and one of the biggest fan bases for someone who's primarily a television writer. If you think his work is sub-par, then it is CLEARLY going over your heads. And his letter sounds "childish" because it is a sarcastic, satirical piece intended to be funny and simultaneously mocking of the Terminator series (and is actually extremely well written). It's okay if you can't understand his writing, or you just don't care for it, you're entitled to your own opinion, but don't insult the guys integrity as a writer because you don't know what you're talking about.
  • jake the snake
    lo it's not funny actually, it's just plain dumb. Oh wait, no this guy is a genius. He wrote Toy Story.
  • B
    Nikki Finke didn't actually publish that letter. Joss himself published that letter to the website earlier in the day and in a pretty shameless act of copyright infringement, Ms. Finke copied the entire thing onto her own website without any whiff of attribution. You can see the original post that Ms. Finke ripped off here:
  • Einfarinn
    Terminator 4 was way better than the Crap Transformers 2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • steve
    T1 ***** T2 ***** T3 **** T4 ***1/2 Really enjoyed 3, 4 not bad but JAMES needs to come BACK I remember reading that JAMES C said that he liked T3 but not T4. So he should buy the rights back with the money he makes with Avatar and start the series again after T3.
  • lo
    32 You seem very unintelligent. And did you have to go on to IMDb and look up his credentials to find out he was one of four people that wrote the screenplay (not the story) for Toy Story? Very impressive. You probably didn't even know who he was before this article.
  • Ryan
    Titan A.E was a great animated movie. Its a shame that the terminator franchise should stay dead.
  • Chase
    Whedon is a hack, and doesnt know what he's talking about the last Terminator movie was actually a step up and a step in the right direction, but if someone buys it please dont give it to Whedon, that guy has very little talent and is full of himself, Dollhouse is one of the worst shows on tv and there's a reason firefly was cancelled, it wasnt very good.
  • Pounding Metal
    Hilarious! You people are way to serious. Lighten up!
  • John
    #11 speaking the truth...Preach On Favorite Cameron Movie: Aquaman
  • Ed
    Give it to James Cameron
  • Tra la la la la di da
    Cameron is unoriginal...duh. Who cares? Alien was before Aliens and all he did was multiply the one by many more and added a queen. Was it awesome? Yes. Was it duh...yes. One alien cool...more, AWESOME! I wonder who could have came up with that. There's nothing especially great about the written story. It's simply an awesome action movie. 4 lost it's coolness with it's cheesiness of how they brought back Ripley, that insult of a hybrid, and that while their was more killing and more aliens, there wasn't more fighting and it become some weird side drama with Ripley and Call. Still, was T2 awesome? Heck yeah! Did we need another? No. Even after 3 we didn't as it ended with the war and we knew how this was going to play out. Could and should they continue it? Yes as the boring build up is there, so now let's dive into the action like Aliens and T2. Hm, funny how Cameron's infamy is based off sequels...someone's original work. Still, doesn't mean he can't make sequels. I'll be in line for 5 when and if it happens. There are certain things that since you grew up with it, you'll see it anyhow. Bay would make a good future one as long as we keep the funny to a minimum. Stupid twins...
  • I absolutely loved the Sarah Conner Chronicles ( TSCC ).
  • dh
    #38 What the heck are you talking about firefly was amazing and Serenity has one of the epic openings of all time.
  • Lana1222
    Joss Whedon...FYI for your ignorant minds has done more than just Buffy, Angel and Dollhouse. The man has also got Firefly and Serenity under his belt and is a Sci Fi genius. If he did get his hands on the Terminator Franchise, I can bet you, with his genius he can make it rise from it's pathetic ashes. as for Terminator Salvation it was a desperate attempt to try and do what JJ Abrams did with Star Trek (Except JJ Abrams succeeded.) people say Whedon's shows aren't notable...go to comic con people and ask anyone...Whedon's the king of Sci Fi and he'd do wonders with this franchise. (even if he is joking, the man knows his stuff.) plus the man was apart of writing Toy Story. you can't down on Toy Story
  • jake the snake
    Firefly and Serenity were weak. One was an okay series and the other almost a B movie. And fyi Terminator Salvation came out before Star Trek.
  • blah
    @#42 : "Hm, funny how Cameron's infamy is based off sequels…someone's original work." WTF are you talking about? Cameron did the original Terminator (yes, I know something else inspired Terminator...).




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